Business, Law, and Innovation

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
WED 2:15 - 5:05 pm TNH 3.142

Evaluation Method

Type Date Time Location


During this course we will explore the answers to three big questions: 1) what do ocean waves, flu viruses and fashion trends have to do with how business works; 2) why is spending on technology such a large part of our economy; and 3) what is the role of law, entrepreneurs and venture capital in this mix. Our first question concerns an area of academic study, three decades in the making, which explains business behavior not just in terms of supply and demand economics, but by looking at the behavioral characteristics of natural systems. The second question we will tackle addresses how businesses use technology to win against their competitors, and why this has lead to technology's dominance in our economy. Finally, we will consider how new technologies, brought to market by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, become part of how businesses function. From the first glimpse of an innovation, to broad acceptance in the marketplace, we will study each of the business and legal steps in the process and why its role in our economy is so vital for growth. This class is quite different from others you might have taken. We do not use case studies; we do not read academic texts. Instead, we draw upon two books. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, which explains how trends start and why broken windows cause more crime. We also read Complexity by Mitchell Waldrop, a book which some believe explains everything. In addition to this material, we utilize a number of business articles and in-class exercises. During the course of the semester various guest speakers will present their views on the topics covered in class. More information about the class as well as a list of previous speakers can be found at

Textbooks ( * denotes required )

Complexity *
Mitchell Waldrop


Headshot of Dell, Adam R. Dell, Adam R.
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